60-year-old Jared Mbiuki was on his way home from his job in a slaughter house in Magutuni Market, Maara Sub County, Tharaka Nithi County, when he got attracted to a TB awareness campaign during a *community TB screening outreach.
When he got nearer, a Community Health Volunteer (CHV) invited him to one of the tents for TB screening. “They first inquired whether I had experienced any symptoms such as cough, night sweats, fatigue, loss of appetite or weight loss. After telling them I had been having a persistent cough and fatigue, they gave me a falcon tube and requested for my sputum. They also requested for my phone number and told me that they would call after a few days to provide me with the test results,” Jared shares.
A day later, Jared received a call from the same community volunteer requesting him to present himself at Magutuni Sub County Hospital to collect his results.
“At first I was hesitant because I associated hospital with death, but the CHV, Stella, whom I know very well convinced me to go as my matter was not related to the two issues that were worrying me,” Jared recalls.
Upon presenting himself in the hospital, they confirmed that he had tuberculosis. They put him through counselling and immediately initiated him on treatment.
“Since I began treatment, I have been progressing on well. I am no longer coughing; no more fatigue and I have added weight. I am more productive at work now as I don’t get tired easily, as was the case before,” a jovial Jared says.
His wife shares the same sentiments by noting, “I am happy my husband is responding well to treatment. I will continue supporting him in ensuring that he takes a balanced diet as well as reminding him to take the medications. He is feeding well, his appetite is back and he is responding well to treatment. He is gaining back his weight.”
The CHV visited his place of work and home for contact tracing and luckily none of his contacts was found to have the disease, upon sputum collection and examination with a GeneXpert machine.
Jared is grateful to the CHV for inviting him for the TB screening. He notes, “I would have continued suffering were it not for her intervention. I am also thankful for the support accorded to me from the point of screening, diagnosis and the ongoing treatment phase.”
The community volunteer, Stella Kagwiria who traced Jared notes that she feels motivated when they are able to finding missing TB cases like Jared in the community and put them on treatment.
“I am happy and it motivates me to continue doing the work that I do when I see them recover. It also acts as a good evidence in the community that I serve that TB is curable as I always tell them,” Stella says.
According to the Tharaka Nithi County TB Coordinator, Francisca Mukami and Maara Sub County TB Coordinator, Martin Mawira, immediately after the first cases of COVID-19 were announced in Kenya, between April and June 2020, there was a decline in TB case finding and notification of more than 20% compared to the previous quarters in the County. This, they note, was due to the reduced number of patients visiting the health facilities.
To find the missing cases and create awareness on TB disease, community TB screening outreaches were conducted across the county in collaboration with the National TB Program and partners among them CHS through USAID TB ARC II activity.
A community TB screening outreach aimed at providing free TB services had been organised by Tharaka Nithi County Department of Health, Tuberculosis Unit, in collaboration with the National Tuberculosis, Leprosy and Lung Disease Program (NTLD-P) and the USAID funded Tuberculosis Accelerated Response and Care II (TB ARC II) activity, and other partners. During the exercise, 965 clients were screened for TB, with 496 being presumptive TB cases. Out of these 19 patients were diagnosed and put on treatment with Jared being one of them.